From North Connemara, Liz and Yvonne Kane, known as The Kane Sisters, are much respected musicians and educators. Born in Letterfrack, they were educated in Kylemore Abbey School. They were taught music by their grandfather, local fiddle player, Jimmy Mullen and Mary Finn, a Co.Sligo musician and teacher.
Liz and Yvonne first came to national and international prominence during the three year period in which they toured with accordion player, Sharon Shannon as members of her band, The Woodchoppers. They travelled all over the world with her band and are featured artists on Sharon’s album ‘The Diamond Mountain Sessions’. At that time, a Hot Press review by Siobhan Long confirmed ‘...while 'Fire in their Bellies' (with Liz and Yvonne Kane) is ensemble playing at its best and most naked.'
Following this period of touring with Sharon Shannon, the girls decided to embark musically on their own and they recorded their first album together entitled ‘The Well Tempered Bow’. This received rave reviews including this review from well known New
York music critic, Earle Hitchner:
“Aptly titled, 'The Well-Tempered Bow' is fine-honed unison fiddling by two musicians who know how to draw out the heat and light within a melody. There's no superficial flashiness substituting for a more difficult-to-achieve understanding of what makes a tune tick. This duo debut has real depth and heft, with superb accompaniment from guitarist and pianist John Blake, a member of the band Téada. The Kanes Head Up Best Traditional Albums of 2002”
The Kane Sisters toured Ireland and the United States following the release of their first album and this followed with a second album entitled ‘Under the Diamond’ in 2004.
More reviews followed including this extract below:
“Liz and Yvonne Kane's debut recording ‘The Well Tempered Bow’ was so good in every way it was hard to imagine what the two fiddle playing sisters from Letterfrack, Connemara, would come up with as a follow-up. Well, the old adage "if it ain't broke" is most fitting here. Although they did invite a couple more musicians to participate as accompanists, in all other aspects their new CD is pretty much identical to the first, down to the great mix of esoteric tunes generously sprinkled with more spine-tingling Paddy Fahey compositions. But who's complaining, not me. I loved the first album, and I love this one... almost as much. Liz and Yvonne seem to have a knack for selecting the most gorgeous Irish tunes ever composed - the jig "The Lakes of Killarney" is on my list, and so is Liz's own tune "Betsy's Delight" - or having their unique way with old
Based in Letterfrack currently, Liz and Yvonne teach music during the school year and tour in the US during the summer. Between them, they have close to 200 students and travel all over the west coast teaching music.
Their latest album ‘Side by Side’ was launched in July 2010 at The Catskills Irish Festival in East Durham, NY and followed by a two week tour with concertina player Edel Fox.
The girls have also guested
on a number of albums:
- The Diamond Mountain Sessions - Sharon Shannon (2000) Recorded in the Monastery
Hostel in Letterfrack, Galway along with Donal Lunny,
Carlos Nunez, Steve Earle, John Prine, Mary Staunton,
Jackson Browne, The Hothouse Flowers and Dessie O'Halloran
(Liz and Yvonne)
- The Fiddler Fair -
compilation from Fiddle festival Mc Carthy's pub Baltimore,
Cork (2000) (Liz and Yvonnne)
- Behind the Mist - compilation
of musicians who have been part of the Bog and Sea
Week festivals in Letterfrack over the last fifteen
years. (2000) (Liz and Yvonne)
- Idir Dhá Solas - Maighread and Tríona ní Dhomnaill (2000) (Liz and
- Providence - Providence
- Transcendental Blues - Steve Earle (2000)(Liz and Yvonne)
- The Girls won't leave the
Boys Alone - Cherish the Ladies (2000) (Yvonne)
- Memories from the Holla - Peter and Angelina Carberry (2001) (Liz)
- The Pound Road - Dessie
O'Halloran (2001) (Liz and Yvonne)
- Mná na hÉireann (Liz
Jimmy Mullen 1920-2003
Our grandfather Jimmy Mullen, Fahy, Clifden, Co. Galway
passed away in August 2003 after a long illness. A renowned
figure in the world of traditional music, his death
saddened not only his family and friends, but
has been felt nationally and internationally by people
who travelled regularly to meet him and join in the
frequent music sessions which he loved so much. Although
James was better known for his fiddle playing, he
was also an accomplished watch and clock repairer,
storyteller and could turn his hand to anything. His
favourite phrase was 'if at first you don't succeed,
try another way'. Connemara has lost a legendary figure
in traditional music circles and indeed he will be
remembered fondly wherever there is a gathering of
musicians. May he rest in peace.